Welcome. I photograph families who want timeless, evocative black and white portraits of their children, hanging on their walls.
“Very mindful of the fact that time is flying by, I wanted to capture my children, Olivia, Grace and Leo as they are today.
I loved the way the subjects – my teenage children – were, in the gentlest way possible – exposed. I loved the way the pictures captured their vulnerability as well as their new-found poise. I loved the way they all looked alive – blooming, flawless, perfect, as well as having a coiled up energy and tension just beneath the surface. I loved the tiny details which I will treasure – Olivia’s bed-head hair with every tiny tendril lovingly illuminated, Grace’s huge eyes and her uncanny, almost unsettling composure, Leo’s innocence and youthful energy.
It was way more than just a good “shot” of them, it was the way their newly emerging identities were exposed by the camera. As well as being strikingly beautiful portraits they are very interesting as well”.
“Dear Ciaran, thank you so much for managing to produce such stunning photographs. You have amazed us again with your talent and skill. We’re so glad you could fit us in to your busy schedule as we can’t believe how time has flown since you last took photographs of our family when Leili was only 6 months old. Clearly Leili has changed so much since then and now she even has her younger sister Olivia to be with. Maybe we need to schedule yearly photographs into our diary so not to miss these precious moments. We have the photos hanging in our sitting room which has now been transformed into a loving happy home with beautiful memories decorating our walls. Thank you again for producing such beautiful precious and valuable memories for us to treasure for many years to come.
Wishing you all the best”.
The Portrait Session
To book a portrait sitting, simply call or email. Once the session fee has been paid, we will discuss availability, who is to be photographed, what you might wear or dress your child in for the portraits, and anything you hope the photographs will show.
The session always starts with a plan, but we build in lots of flexibility. If it rains we wear wellies, and if the sun should shine, I’ve got the sunscreen. Dark skies ought never spell the end of photography, and in black and white especially, they can look quite striking! Usually the aim is to make images both inside and out, to give a diverse selection for you to choose from.
On the day of your photo shoot, we will be together for between two and four hours. Of course there are no time limits, and I will have no other commitments that day. The idea is to work at a relaxing pace, so the resulting photographs look natural and comfortable. Photographing in familiar surroundings can also help with this, which is why most of my sittings take place in the home, garden or a local park. We can move between different locations, as well as try any changes of outfit if desired.
Portrait sessions are scheduled throughout the week. Availability Monday-Friday is usually very good. Weekends, public and school holidays fill more quickly and are best arranged as soon as you are able to commit to a date. My strong preference is to photograph first thing in the morning, especially with young children who I find are often in better mood straight after breakfast. Morning light also tends to be most useful for photography.
Viewing Your Photographs
Around one week after we have made your photographs, I will present a tightly edited selection of twenty-five or so proof images in a private gallery. This will remain online for seven days, giving you ample opportunity to select those portraits you would most like to own. In exceptional circumstances I may extend the proofing gallery for an additional fee. Once you have made your choices, I will meticulously print, frame and prepare each photograph for delivery. Unframed prints are normally dispatched within one week. Framed prints and platinum prints are typically delivered within one month.
The Portrait Commission | London
- 2-4 hour sitting in London. Private online gallery to choose your favourites.
- 3 beautifully printed portraits on A2 sized paper, well suited to framing and display on your wall. With a warm sepia-like quality and delicate tonality, they are crafted meticulously on cotton rag papers or exquisite handmade Japanese Washi.
- 3 high-resolution digital versions of the three prints you have selected.
- Add additional portraits to your folio for £120 each.
The best way to enjoy your portraits is to have them beautifully framed, and hanging on your wall. I make custom picture frames in my workshop that are crafted meticulously to museum standard in hard woods – usually black walnut. These are available for £350 each and should be ordered at the same time as your prints. Please note there is a minimum order of three frames. Learn about the picture frames here.
All prints come with recommendation for framing, should you arrange this for yourself.
My objective is to create beautiful portraits for your wall. With each printed portrait that you purchase, I will include a high resolution digital version of that photograph at no extra charge. This will be meticulously edited and print-ready, perfect for making copies for friends and family. Digital files are made available for download.
Platinum and Palladium Prints
There is the option of having your portraits printed by hand in platinum and palladium metals. This is a traditional darkroom process that requires much time, skill and dedication to master – but the results are exquisite.
Ciaran Lee | Photographer
From the age of sixteen I have lived and breathed photography. Since 2008 this passion has been my profession. I have had the privilege of photographing many families, and the satisfaction of knowing countless treasured portraits now hang on their walls.
When making photographs of children, I am trying to show universal signs such as innocence, reflection, discovery and vulnerability, but also unique characteristics and behaviours known only to the family. Be it a telling half smile, the way a young boy covers his face when nervous, or a little girl waiting by the window for Dad to return from work. It is these pictures that parents tell stories about, and children once grown look back upon with such fondness.
Understanding the immediate and enduring value a portrait will have, is reason for the many hours lovingly invested in its creation. I believe that if you are to live with photographs of your family on your wall, they should look every bit as good as the work you might buy from, or expect to see in a gallery. After all, you will be looking at them every day. If they are going to be enjoyed by your children, they should be made with the very best materials, and be of timeless quality.
For more than a decade I practiced the craft of traditional darkroom printing, committing many hundreds of black and white photographs to light sensitive paper under the gentle glow of red light. All of my early portraits for families were made this way – as Gelatin Silver prints.
In 2010 I saw some exquisite platinum and palladium prints created by Irving Penn, and immediately began to learn the process. Despite being costly, relatively complex and very time-consuming to make, dedicated photographers and collectors of fine photography have always been beguiled by the characteristic tonal scale and inherent value of prints formed from the noble metals. It took some time to get good at, but I fell in love with the process and its qualities, and up until mid-2015 printed little else.
Most recently I’ve been making prints digitally with a modified printer, replacing the colour inks with a monochrome set formed from carbon. In order to get warm platinum prints, I would add plenty of palladium, work with a hot developer and introduce lots of humidity during printing. The seven shades of warm grey ink used now, give the tonal response I sought with the historical process, but with the advantage of deeper, richer shadows. Being carbon, they will endure for generations of enjoyment.
Thanks to Rebecca Portsmouth for the portrait of me.
Please use the contact form to make any enquiries. Alternatively you can reach me directly on 07877932954 or via email: email@example.com
I look forward to hearing from you.